Thursday, January 12, 2012

Keeping Christ in ...

During December there were a lot of e-mails and what-not floating around about keeping Christ in Christmas.  We see most of these … or an updated version of the older ones … every year.  And most of them are well-meaning, but (in my opinion) based on an uninformed idea that someone is trying to “EX Christ out of Christmas” by replacing “Christ” with “X”.  I say that this idea is “uninformed” because I don’t want to be uncharitable by using a harsher term.  I will use a harsher term if, after hearing my explanation, people continue to be unnecessarily belligerent when they see  “Xmas” in print.
We need to understand that the word “Christ” in the Greek language starts with the Greek letter CHI, which is the ancient source for the letter X in the Roman alphabet (which is the alphabet that English and most of the other Western languages is written in).  Further, you may be familiar with the acronym IXθΥΣ (Romanized to Ichthus – which means fish in Greek and is the reason Christians have used the fish symbol from the very earliest days of the faith).  IXθΥΣ is an acronym consisting of the first letters of the Greek words translated Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.  The Greek letter CHI (X) has stood for Christ since the first century, and theology students use it as shorthand in note-taking in colleges and seminaries even to this day (just as they use THETA (θ) as shorthand for God).
I saw one in December that I had never seen before, and it bothered me greatly because it took well-meaning ignorance to a nasty conclusion.  It was a music video encouraging people to make a big stink over boycotting businesses that substituted “Happy Holidays” for “Merry Christmas”, and to do so with a curt and not at all kind explanation of why you were leaving and not planning to come back.  I guess the fact that it was a very slick, professional-quality production increased my level of ... disappointment ... that people who claim to follow Christ would encourage such ungracious behavior.  The song encouraged Christians to take offense at something that really shouldn’t be worried about … and to do so in a way that is sure to give offense.  Apparently they were unaware (or chose to ignore) the fact that the word “holiday” has its root in the term “holy day” … a category in which I believe Christmas firmly resides.
A twitter feed I follow clearly stated that there are people who get all bent out of shape about “keeping Christ in Christmas,” but fail to remember to keep Christ in Christian.  To take a cue from the words of Paul in Ephesians 4 … you shouldn’t have learned Christ in this way.
This MUSING may seem a few weeks late (and I guess it is from a certain perspective) … but keeping Christ in Christian is year-round.
That’s enough to think about for now.  The peace of Christ to you.


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